Climate Detectives Projects 2018-2019

Project topic: Flora & Fauna

Project title: Trees in Climate Change

Team: Parcobservers

2018-2019   Gymnasium Schloß Neuhaus   Paderborn   Germany   2 Student’s age: 12-13

Summary of the project

We are two friends from Paderborn Germany and for about three years members in the Weatherclub of Gymnasium Schloß Neuhaus. We regularly photographed a spruce, a birch and an apple tree every week. We worked on the topic “Phenological Garden” all the time. When we saw the satellite pictures of Alexander Gerst about the drought over Germany, we discussed intensively the climate change and wanted to contribute some points with our observations. We wanted to compare our data with older data and see if we could detect climate change in our park. About three months from now, our teacher suggested the project “Climate Detectives” and then we started analyzing our pictures and worked on them every Tuesday and at home. In the end, we found the result that climate change certainly has an important impact on our trees, but that we can not clearly demonstrate this. We learned how many influencing factors affect the trees and we must observe even mor exact in order to obtain clear results. In addition, the reaction of each plant to changes in temperature is certainly different: the spruce suffers and some years later it will grow elsewhere, the apple tree has more and earlier fruit, the birch tree will be more and more dry and probably change the place too. We learnt to go on observing our plant and to search for comparisons with other observations to find more exact results.

Main results

Problem We have been observing an apple tree, a birch and and a spruce every week for a year now. Since the hot summer of 2018 and the terrifying satellite imagery, we wanted to know if our parc is also affected. Methods Our climate garden (the coordinates are 51.745472, 8.708775) is surrounded on two sides by walls. It is usually calm, as the trees are protected by the walls.  Our soil is bad and loamy.In Paderborn the climate is changeable, but overall mild. However in recent years it is getting warmer and sunnier. From the beginning of our project we wanted to observe our trees. For this purpose we determined a branch on every tree, tagged it and photographed it weekly. Results From these observations we have seen that our apple tree starts to bloom eleven days earlier than the trees observed by the German Weather Service (April 14, 2019 at our site – April 25, 2017 at the DWD) All the movements of our allpe tree have been very early even compared with the gardens in our area. The birch tree lost the green colour of its leaves very early, but we think this is the result of the hot summer 2018. Our spruce nearly did not change growth and colour. The parc area is very humid ( junction of three rivers), so the spruce did not suffer. We realized that there are many completely different factors for plant growth like neighbourhoosd of houses, soil, near rivers, surroundings etc.Therefore, we can not easily generalize our observations. But we dare say that our plants behave in a similar way to apple trees in other areas in Germany.

Actions to help lessen the problem

We would like to inform many students using different media about our work so that many participate in phenological plant observations ( German Weather Service). We will come in touch with a forester and a fruit grower to get their opinion. We would like to talk to our landscape gardeners in our parc about our results, to discuss how climate change will change our park. In our climate garden we have special places for insects, we habe meadows with diffenrent flowers which may grow without being cut.

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